DEPARTMENT PROFILE

39 Essex Chambers

Construction

13 ranked barristersBand 3London (Bar)UK Bar 2021 View ranking table
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Ranked Barristers
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Ranked Barristers

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39 Essex Chambers continues to provide an impressive construction law practice and the set has notable strength at both silk and junior level. The barristers are sought out by clients in the construction industry across the length and breadth of the UK, and also undertake a huge amount of international work. The set draws instructions from those on both the contractor and developer sides, including government bodies. Recently members of the set have handled particularly notable work in relation to high-profile residential and commercial developments, as well as cases concerning heavy engineering and infrastructure projects. The set's practice area expertise extends into PFI and PPP contract disputes and the barristers have recent experience in emerging cladding and fire safety issues. One client commends the set for its "very strong bench, brilliant counsel and experience in big-ticket claims."

Client service:

The clerking team at 39 Essex Chambers is led by the "excellent" senior clerk Alastair Davidson and the senior practice manager for the commercial, construction and insurance law team is Niki Merison, who "goes out of his way to assist with extras and is very responsible and sensible on fees."

Strengths:

Adam Robb QC
Well-regarded practitioner who is regularly sought after by household-name law firms to assist with high-value disputes. He works in construction matters arising from a range of industry sectors including transport, energy and healthcare. He is especially proficient in litigation involving aspects of professional negligence.
"He finds a way though complicated matters and is an exceptional advocate. He's polite but packs a punch."

Strengths:

Adrian Hughes QC
Skilled silk with a robust domestic practice and a particular interest in infrastructure and PFI work, including disputes relating to construction projects in the healthcare sector. His international arbitration offering is notable, and he undertakes significant work in the Middle and Far East. He is also recognised for his experience of acting as an arbitrator in construction and engineering disputes.
"A very good QC tactically and exceptionally good with clients from overseas."

Strengths:

Alexandra Bodnar
Impressive junior who is increasingly being instructed as sole counsel in highly complex construction disputes. She offers expertise across litigation, arbitration and adjudication proceedings and regularly appears in the TCC. She offers particular expertise in insurance issues pertaining to construction projects.
"She always does an impressive job." "She gives well thought-out advice."
Recent work: Acted in a TCC case valued at £7 million concerning defective cladding and fire defects at the Sky Plaza, a student building in Leeds.

Strengths:

Andrew Kearney
An established construction and engineering barristers handing a broad range of disputes. He has particular experience in the representation of contractor clients including in international projects. A qualified arbitrator and mediator, he is well suited to settling disputes though those ADR forums in addition to TCC proceedings. 
"An excellent construction barrister. Not only does he know his stuff, but he's also very well connected and respected."

Strengths:

Anthony Edwards
Highly experienced construction specialist practising across a number of sectors including utilities, transport and healthcare. He often appears before the TCC and routinely handles ICC arbitrations. He has dealt with all manner of allegations, including defective work and negligent design.
"He is very good on his feet, has a great relaxed advocacy style and produces very thorough written submissions."

Strengths:

Jess Connors
Maintains a wide-ranging practice, which covers domestic disputes alongside international arbitration. She has acted for prominent employers and contractors in disputes across the world. Her practice relates to a variety of areas including energy, infrastructure and residential developments. Her experience includes litigation involving allegedly defective cladding.
"Incredibly good at leading and driving forward results for clients."

Strengths:

Karim Ghaly QC
Attracts praise from industry observers for his consummate advocacy. He is regularly instructed to represent clients in TCC and appellate proceedings and in complex international arbitrations. He frequently handles cases involving energy and professional negligence issues, and is noted for his deep understanding of the mechanisms of PFI and PPP disputes. His international client base includes contractors, subcontractors and employers.
"He provides astute, commercial advice, works hard and is a good team player."
Recent work: Represented Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust in a £25 million TCC claim arising from the construction of a hospital. The dispute concerned the adequacy of the fire-stopping construction at the hospital.

Strengths:

Kate Grange QC
Has a diverse construction practice that often incorporates issues of public law. She is frequently instructed in sophisticated pieces of litigation and arbitration arising out of the insurance and professional negligence elements of construction. She is best known for her role as one of the leading counsel to the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.
"Exceptionally able." "She is very clear in her questioning and very fair."

Strengths:

Marion Smith QC
Quality silk who is recognised for her prowess in adjudications, TCC proceedings and international arbitration. She is sought after to advise on a variety of matters, including PFI, energy and engineering disputes. She is noted for her ability to establish excellent working relationships with clients. She has significant experience representing clients in domestic ADR proceedings.
"She has an extraordinary ability to consume and analyse information swiftly." "She produces clear, measured advice and manages to distil complex themes and extensive documentation into something concise and understandable."

Strengths:

Patrick Hennessey
Impressive junior who is sought out in a wide range of construction matters. His recent work includes disputes involving transport infrastructure, energy projects and property development. He provides expert representation to public and private sector employers as well as contractors, and is adept at handling international arbitration in addition to litigation proceedings.
"A polished, pragmatic and commercially orientated barrister. His written work is excellent and he has a good manner with a tribunal."
Recent work: Instructed as lead junior on behalf of Celotex, one of the core participants in the public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

Strengths:

Paul Darling QC
Heavyweight silk with a strong global practice that often involves tribunal work in the Far and Middle East. His domestic work sees him regularly appearing before the TCC in an array of high-value cases.
"He is a highly level thinker, tactical and has the benefit of giving advice based on years of experience." "He is good at making something legal, technical and complicated simple. He has a commanding courtroom presence."
Recent work: Acted in a claim by the freeholder of the Manchester Hilton regarding defects in cladding that needed to be restrained to prevent it falling off. The case involved the consideration of the scope of the repairing covenant and of the seriousness of the defect.

Strengths:

Richard Wilmot-Smith QC
Highly regarded senior silk who is particularly well known for his adroit handling of matters involving guarantees, performance bonds and related professional negligence claims. He has developed a sterling practice, both in the UK and abroad, which is supplemented by his regular work as an arbitrator.
"An experienced advocate with extensive knowledge of all things construction."

Strengths:

Stuart Catchpole QC
Masterful construction silk extolled for his courtroom presence and intellectual prowess. He has a renowned domestic practice and is widely respected for his international arbitration work. He handles professional negligence and contractual disputes on behalf of prominent clients in the construction industry. He remains highly sought after by clients involved in disputes arising from major energy and natural resources projects.
"Decisive, authoritative and excellent with clients." "If I had a bet-the-farm case, I'd go to Stuart Catchpole QC." "A master cross-examiner."
Recent work: Represented a defendant in relation to claims arising out of extensive fire damage to a flue gas absorber at a coal-fired power station.

Construction Department

39 Essex Chambers

firm
Department location

81 Chancery Lane

London

Greater London

UK

WC2A 1DD

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Ranked Barristers

Chambers Research is conducted by 200 Research Analysts, across 200 jurisdictions and provides nearly 6,000 rankings tables. Annually we collect hundreds of thousands of responses from clients, the majority via in-depth interview. Learn more about our methodology.

Silks (QC)

London (Bar)

Construction


Adam Robb QC
Band 4
Adrian Hughes QC
Band 4
Karim Ghaly QC
Band 3
Kate Grange QC
Band 4
Marion Smith QC
Band 3
Paul Darling QC
Band 2